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Start him up
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It doesn't make much sense to give a guy $11 million a year and then play him less than 25 minutes per game, but then again not much the New Orleans Pelicans have done since last season ended makes sense.

Trading the rights to Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-rounder for Jrue Holiday didn't make sense, dealing Greivis Vasquez and Robin Lopez for Tyreke Evans didn't make much sense and changing the name of the franchise to the Pelicans and then completely leaving the new name off of the re-designed uniforms didn't make sense.

But New Orleans is finally doing one thing right, and that's starting Evans.

Evans, who signed a four-year, $44 million contract as part of a sign-and- trade between the Pelicans and Sacramento Kings, averaged just 24.8 minutes per game his first 49 games of the season, of which he started none.

Pelicans coach Monty Williams did fantasy owners no favors by sticking with Al-Farouq Aminu and his 7.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg and 1.4 apg as the starting small forward ahead of Evans for most of the season.

But nine games ago he made the switch, and it has resulted in a fantasy bonanza for Evans owners.

Evans has averaged 37.8 minutes, 21.8 points, 6.3 assists, 6.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 threes in eight games since he joined the starting lineup.

He missed one game during that stretch with an illness and came off the bench in his return on March 14 but still played 35 minutes, more than he saw in any game from Dec. 27 to Feb. 26.

The recent flourish from Evans has been overshadowed by Evans' teammate Anthony Davis' own stretch of dominance. Davis has scored at least 28 points in six straight games and had the NBA's first 40-point, 20-rebound game of the season Sunday against the Celtics.

Evans had 26 points on 11-of-21 shooting, four rebounds, four assists and three steals in the game, but Davis was the story again.

Evans' numbers over the last eight games are reminiscent of his rookie season with Sacramento, when he put up 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals to win the Rookie of the Year.

He became the fourth rookie in NBA history to average 20-5-5, joining three players you may have heard of: Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

However, his points per game average has dropped in each of the four seasons since then and is down to a career-low 13.4 this season. It was just 12 eight games ago, though, and should continue to rise now that Evans is starting.

With 16 games left, the 24-year-old guard-forward is going to swing some fantasy championships, and just three weeks ago that appeared highly unlikely.

It's hard to influence anything when you're playing just 24.8 minutes per game. At 37.8, however, it's much easier, especially for a player with Evans' unique skill set.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.


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